Thursday, September 5, 2013

End of an era

Did you ever use a kiosk to check your email, or visit a website?

In years past, it was common for students and faculty alike to use Internet kiosks to check email or to visit websites. Like a telephone booth, users could stop by the Internet kiosk to visit websites, or to check their email. The kiosk was a self-contained unit, with display, keyboard, and trackball-mouse. These venerable stations have seen a lot of wear and tear, but have stood up to countless hours of use.

But like the telephone booth, the era of the Internet kiosk is coming to a close. The age of the laptop, ubiquitous wireless networking, and the smartphone have overtaken the Internet kiosk. Our students have access to our wireless network virtually everywhere on campus (and in places where wi-fi is less than great, we are working to improve coverage). And some students forgo our wireless network entirely, choosing instead to bring in their own smartphones and tablets that carry 3G or 4G cellular data plans, so they can literally connect wherever they are.

The Internet kiosk, once an indispensable part of the campus, isn't relevant to the current generation of students. And it's time we retired them. Last year, we reclaimed the Internet kiosks from around campus. They just weren't being used. And today, we begin to recycle these devices or give away the empty particleboard-veneer shells.

It's an end of an era. Thanks to everyone who worked to bring these devices to campus and to support them over their lifecycle. Good times.

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